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Op-Ed: EFCC and the charge of witch-hunting opposition

Nigerians heaved a great sigh of relief when the then administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo created the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), writes Erasmus Ikhide

CORRUPTION has been the bane of national development of Nigeria which showed so much potential dating back in 1960. Billions of dollars have been lost to the scourge thereby making mendicants out of most of her citizens.

Nigerians heaved a great sigh of relief when the then administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo created the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and it took off in 2004 under the pioneer leadership of Malam Nuhu Ribadu.

Abdulrasheed Bawa (pictured) was appointed the commission’s youngest chairman barely aged 40 earlier this year. I have listed his ground breaking achievements in earlier articles published in many Nigerian newspapers and so there is no need here to take coal to Newcastle.

It was with dismay that I read a report attributed to the National Publicity Secretary of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kola Ologbondiyan that the EFCC is being used by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to witch hunt the opposition and coerce them into joining its fold.

The statement was titled: ‘2023: PDP Accuses APC of Using EFCC to Hound Opposition, Dissenting Voices’. 

The statement reads in part: ‘Our party, however, states that no amount of intimidation, harassment and use of anti-graft agencies to clampdown on its leaders on trumped up corruption charges can cow or make the PDP surrender or abdicate the mandate already given to it by Nigerians to lead in the effort to rescue our nation come 2023.

‘The APC knows that it has been rejected by Nigerians having failed woefully and that there is no way it can win elections under any condition. As such, it seeks to use the state apparatus of power to decimate and muzzle opposition and dissenting voices and foist an anti-democratic situation on Nigerians. Part of this heinous plot by the APC is to use the EFCC to bully, harass and hound PDP leaders, who are rallying Nigerians for the task ahead, with a view to coercing them to abdicate the mandate of the people and join the APC.

‘This explains why the EFCC and other security agencies have been harassing PDP leaders such as former Senate President Bukola Saraki, former PDP State Governors including the former Governor of Abia State, Senator Theodore Orji, former Governor of Bayelsa State, Seriake Dickson, his Kano State counterpart, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and other key PDP leaders, on trumped up charges, while their counterparts in the APC with similar allegations as well as others who defected to the APC are moving around freely.

‘Even corrupt officials of the APC administration who are looting our national treasury are doing so freely under Buhari’s watch. Furthermore our party has been made aware of the plots by the APC administration to use the EFCC to further harass outspoken chieftains in a bid to muzzle our party, force a one-party state and deny Nigerians a voice to challenge the atrocities of the APC and its administration. We alert Nigerians at how many of our leaders are being harassed by emissaries of the APC in a bid to get them to compromise their stand against the corrupt and inept APC administration.’

If the APC had done well; if it had not devastated Nigerians and brought so much pain to the people; if the APC had managed our national resources well instead of engaging in unbridle treasury looting, stealing over 15 trillion naira and turning our nation into the poverty capital of the world; if APC had not compromised our national security and threw our nation open to bandits, insurgents an terrorists, would it not be celebrating by now instead of this plot to force its people to submission?

‘In all the APC should know that the evil enterprise cannot bend our leaders or sway Nigerians to jettison their determination to oust the APC from office at all levels across the country come 2023. Nigerians already know that they are saddled with a ‘failed President’ and his ‘failed APC’ for the remaining of his second and final term which will end in 2023. However the PDP calls on the EFCC Chairman to quickly insulate the commission from APC’s manipulative enterprise, which ruined the former leadership of the commission, especially as the clampdown cannot save the APC in 2023.

This statement’s bile and falsehood is unfortunate and speaks of the personality of Ologboiyan who tragically started his career as a journalist with Thisday, one of the nation’s best national dailies where he rose to become its political editor. He violated a cardinal principle of journalism, which the legendary Editor of the Manchester Guardian made into a journalistic creed, ‘Comment is free but facts are sacred.’

The EFCC under Bawa’s watch thoroughly investigated Senator Rochas Okorocha, a prominent member of the APC and staunch supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari. It secured a court order to confiscate numerous assets allegedly acquired illegally when he governed Imo State between 2011 and 2019. Okorocha plans to build a tuition free Islamic University in Daura the hometown of Buhari. Did that stop the Bawa-led EFCC from investigating him and ensuring that his assets were confiscated? Does that speak of any form of bias? Did the EFCC neglect its duty because of the ‘philanthropy’ of Okorocha?

The same EFCC investigated former Governor of Abia State and current Chief Whip of the Senate, Orji Uzor Kalu. It ensured that he was briefly detained before a court order set him free. It is a well known fact that Kalu is close to Buhari but did that prevent the anti graft agency from performing its investigative duty?

The EFCC Boss disclosed to the Independent newspaper on June 21 2021 that the National Leader of the APC and former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is under investigation by the body. He said he wouldn’t be tempted to engage in any form of media trial and Nigerians should allow the anti graft agency to do its work in the best interest of the nation.

Why did Ologbodiyan ignore the fact that these three APC leaders have been investigated by the EFCC? His statement is nothing short of propaganda which exposes his shallow thinking. Was it wrong for the EFCC to investigate the aforementioned PDP leaders with the gargantuan evidence of corruption against them? Should the fight against corruption be viewed based on party lines? Shouldn’t the battle against corruption be fought in national interest devoid of party affiliation?

It is a monumental tragedy that Ologbodiyan who, in my view, is the most incompetent opposition spokesman should be ascribing partisanship to the EFCC. We urge him to praise the EFCC for its fight against the hydra headed monster of corruption whether it involves his party members or not. He should stop spewing petty garbage as the fight by the EFCC isn’t selective since some prominent members of the ruling party are also being investigated.

Enough of this asinine and infantile speech by Ologbodiyan!

Erasmus Ikhide is a journalist and media strategist based in Lagos, Nigeria. He can be reached via: ikhideerasmus@gmail.com, +2348035032123.

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